Publisher's Point of View

Each week, Glenn Hasek, publisher and editor of Green Lodging News, will address the hottest industry topics. Sometimes hard hitting, his column will challenge the industry’s leaders to take action. At other times, he will lift up the industry’s environmental champions. “Point of View” is a column you will not want to miss. To contact Glenn Hasek, call (813) 510-3868, or write to:

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Water Bottle Filling Stations: A No Brainer You Should Consider & Implement


Experts generally agree that approximately 50 billion plastic bottles are used each year in the United States. Only about one-quarter of those are recycled. The lodging industry is certainly an enabler when it comes to plastic bottle waste. One can typically find plastic bottled beverages wherever there is a soda machine or gift shop. What I consider to be a no brainer when it comes to reducing plastic bottle waste is bottle filling stations. This past week I wrapped up an article on bottle filling stations. They are just beginning to take hold in our industry and are currently available primarily through three companies: FloWater, Haws and Elkay. If you have not yet considered placing bottle filling stations on guestroom floors, in lobby areas, fitness rooms, back of house areas, etc., you need to start doing it. You can reduce waste, save money from not having to purchase, store and manage bottles, and possibly even make money through the sale of refillable bottles.

Column Number 500: Looking Back—Up in Smoke & For the Birds


Anniversaries are the types of things that can sneak up on you. In this case, however—my 500th column and 500th weekly e-newsletter—I clearly saw it coming for years. Each week, at the top of my e-newsletter, the “Issue Number” is moved ahead one click. You just can’t avoid the passage of time. Five hundred columns and newsletters. Wow. Early on, it was not always easy generating original content for “green lodging.” Today, however, it is truly a challenge to keep up with all of the developments in green building, operations, products and technologies. Looking back on all of the columns I have written, there was one that was easily read by more people than any other—the one about the birth of my son. He will be five years old in August and last night, for the first time, he read me a sentence from a book. It is one of those parent moments that I will never forget. My son helps me keep things in perspective and makes me want to continue to write about ways to make our planet a better place. The first topic I ever covered in a column: second-hand smoke.

USGBC’s New Hospitality Report Highlight’s LEED’s Dramatic Growth


It is a success story that just is not getting the attention it deserves—our industry’s utilization and embracing of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating program. In case you missed it, USGBC recently released its LEED in Motion: Hospitality report which provides an update on our industry’s LEED participation. Compared to when I first launched Green Lodging News almost 10 years ago, the level of interest in LEED has grown tremendously. According to the report, there are more than 400 LEED certified hotels globally, comprising nearly 133.9 million square feet. The number of LEED hotels is expected to increase significantly over the coming years: there are currently over 1,600 registered hotels totaling 986.6 million square feet in the pipeline, nearly four times the total number of LEED certified hotels. The report includes a map of the United States where one can find LEED hotels. The state with the most by far is California with 31.

Cross-Industry Idea Swapping is Focus of Better Buildings Challenge Program


At the Publix supermarket where I shop here in Florida, there are aisles of refrigerated display cases that go dark when there are no customers in those aisles. As a customer enters the aisle, the lighting begins to come on, but only in those cases that are closest to the customer. A great idea. Could this technology be used somewhere in a hotel? Certainly. Not only in display cases but also in seldom used spaces such as stairways and perhaps even back-of-house areas. A lesson learned from visiting the local supermarket. Learning lessons across industries is the point of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge SWAP. I wrote about the program this past week and “Season One,” as the DOE is describing it, launched on February 17. In Season One, actually a three-day event last December, Hilton Worldwide and Whole Foods Market swapped energy teams in order to uncover new energy efficiency strategies and further accelerate their own companies’ energy efficiency goals.

Lodging Industry Shows Leadership on Hen Welfare Issue


For most egg-laying hens, it is not an easy life. Raised on factory farms in wire cages, they typically have the space of an iPad to live on for 1.5 to two years—not enough space to do anything other than lay eggs. Josh Balk, Senior Food Policy Director, The Humane Society of the United States, told me that when it comes to animal cruelty, living conditions for egg-laying hens is the No. 1 concern. In case you missed it, earlier this month Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced plans to source 100 percent of its eggs from cage-free chickens across its supply chain by 2020. In an announcement regarding the change, Andrea Pinabell, Starwood’s Vice President of Sustainability, said, “Animal welfare is important to our customers and our company, and many of our hotels around the world already use cage-free eggs.” Balk says Starwood joins more than 60 other major companies that have made a commitment to transition to cage-free eggs. Among those companies are Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International, and Hyatt Hotels and Resorts.

Dover Downs Initiatives ‘Critical to Getting Conventions’


“It has absolutely helped us to have such a focus on sustainability.” These are the words of Ed Sutor, President of Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, Dover, Del. I spoke with Ed recently for an article I posted this past week on the property’s sustainability initiatives. I had asked Ed whether or not what Dover Downs does in the area of sustainability brings in new business. “We reply to RFPs all the time,” Ed told me. “Inevitably, one of the questions is: ‘Describe your green program.’ It is critical to getting conventions.” One example of an event that Dover Downs will be hosting this year is Sustain 2016, the Mid-Atlantic’s Annual Hospitality Conference, on March 14 to 15. I will be moderating a session at that event entitled, “Innovation All Stars: Case Studies of Three Companies Determined to Make Our World More Sustainable.” Panelists will include: William F. Kratzer, Chief Technology Officer, BioHitech; Justin Fishkin, Chief Strategy Officer, Local Motors; and Micah Green, CEO, Maidbot. Be sure to attend the event if you can.

Disposers a Critical Component to Effective Food Waste Minimization


I have written or posted articles about food waste frequently over the years—articles focused on everything from food waste prevention to decomposition machines to a food waste disposal ban in Massachusetts. Nine years ago I wrote an article that briefly addressed food waste disposers. A lot can change in nine years and that is why I just posted an updated article on disposers and disposer systems based on my own research as well as conversations with leaders representing our industry’s two leading disposer brands—Salvajor and InSinkErator. Both of these companies, and others, are making it easier to dramatically reduce food waste volume while minimizing water and energy consumption. Food waste is much more than a practical, costly kitchen problem. It is a huge environmental one as well. According to Emerson Electric Co., owner of the InSinkErator brand of food waste disposers, each year in the United States, nearly 34 million tons of food waste is trucked to landfills.

The Heat is On & Global Leaders Recognize It as No. 1 Risk


Not unnoticed this past week was news from two U.S. government agencies—NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—that 2015 shattered 2014’s record to become the hottest year since reliable record-keeping began. Fifteen of the 16 hottest years on record have now occurred in this century, according to NASA. NOAA said that for December, the “temperature departure from average was also the highest departure among all months in the historical record and the first time a monthly departure has reached 2°F.” In Paris in December, global leaders agreed that our planet should not be allowed to warm 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. Based on 2015’s temperature record, however, we are already half way to that 2 degrees. This news, plus the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Risks Report (a report every CEO should read), put climate change front and center this past week.

Javits Center Announcement Tops List of Headlines in Busy News Week


This past week was one of the busiest news weeks in quite some time. First, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the expansion of New York City’s Javits Center by 1.2 million square feet, resulting in a fivefold increase in meeting and ballroom space, including the largest ballroom in the Northeast. The proposal includes the installation of a 34,000-square-foot solar energy array, the largest of its kind on a public building in New York State. As a part of the expansion project, the Javits Center will seek LEED Platinum certification—a rare feat for convention centers. The expansion will complement the improvements of a previous renovation completed in 2014 that included a new façade and flooring; mechanical, technology and sustainability systems; and a 6.75-acre green roof, the second largest of its kind in the country. As a result of those upgrades, the Javits Center achieved LEED Silver certification.

First Corporate Responsibility Report of 2016 Released by Hilton


Hilton Worldwide just published its 2015 Corporate Responsibility (CR) Report—four years after launching its corporate responsibility strategy, Travel with Purpose. The two-page report is a very brief summary of a long series of initiatives and represents the work of 157,000 associates at 4,500 hotels. Focus areas include: people, communities and the environment. Green Lodging News just published an article summarizing the results of Hilton’s largest ever Global Month of Service. It is just one example of the company’s efforts to help people in need. During 2015’s Global Month of Service, team members united to work on 4,145 projects and contributed more than 213,000 volunteer hours in 92 countries. In Australia, at the Hilton Adelaide, team members partnered with Kickstart for Kids, a local organization that provides breakfast to school children, to help fund a yearlong breakfast program for 16 local schools.

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